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I planted a Yew (Podocarpus) in the middle of summer last year...it looked/felt to me like it was doing just fine into the fall and early winter. A really unusual deep freeze hit in early February (I am in the Dallas, TX, USA area)...it now looks like this:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/kzd07qs5chu52ke/2021-06-09%2009.51.45.jpg

There is clearly some new growth trying to push up/out. If I trim away dead stuff is the plant likely to survive? Or would I just be "spinning my wheels", so to speak?

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It's definitely not dead and has survived, but obviously some parts have been killed back to the root. I would actually remove the dead parts now - your USDA zone is 8a or 8b, and apart from unexpected and unusual freezes, this tree should be perfectly hardy in your area. However, whether you remove those parts now or not is your choice - I just wouldn't want to look at it as it is currently all summer and fall, and that dead growth will be in the way of new growth and may be harder to remove later on, as the new growth gets larger.

In an average winter, it shouldn't suffer this type of damage, unless your local climate has changed so much it regularly gets much colder than it should in winter. However, if you know there's going to be a sudden freeze, some temporary protection such as horticutural fleece to help the tree cope whilst it's still young would be helpful. General info here https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/shrubs/podocarpus/podocarpus-yew-pine-plants.htm

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It looks alive and healthy so it will recover just fine. If trees all died every time there was some extreme weather, they would have been extinct long ago.

I would leave the dead wood until next year. It will provide some protection to the new growth from winds and snow during next winter. It might not look very pretty, but it's not doing any harm to the tree.

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